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Labelexpo Americas: Automation gains

Danaher Group companies AVT, Esko and X-Rite exhibited together

The onset of Industry 4.0 is encouraging increasingly sophisticated workflow software to integrate and automate ever-more parts of the printing process.

As part of the Danaher Product Identification (PID) Platform, AVT – along with sister companies X-Rite and Esko – introduced several joint systems that streamline the workflow process, from brand owners to printers and back to brand owners. The platform’s initial three points of integration were showcased: 1) Esko’s Automation Engine connects to AVT’s 100 percent inspection platforms (AutoSet), linking pre-press to inspection with close to zero set-up time or operator intervention. The result is greater production time per press, higher accuracy and fewer rejections. 2) X-Rite’s ColorCert links to AVT’s SpectraLab for in-line color measurement, generating color scorecard reports based on SpectraLab measurements and offering increased time savings, system accuracy and visibility. 3) Esko’s Web Center also connects to X-Rite’s ColorCert, automatically populating color-related specification fields for job creation, saving time and resources as well as increasing overall system accuracy.

Baldwin Vision Systems’ ColorTrack ‘color expert in a box’ software for flexo and gravure packaging applications facilitates fast, accurate press-side correction of ink formulations. Advancements include options for customized ‘out of tolerance’ alerts, capabilities to reduce changeover time and leftover ink, precise calculation of required ink quantities during job set-up, per-job monitoring of real ink costs, and the ability to manage conditions across different processes, presses, and facilities to guarantee brand color fidelity. 

Cerm introduced Live Monitor, which allows narrow web printers to connect their machines and get live data streamed to configurable dashboards. Cerm’s Live Monitor can be used for conventional presses, digital presses and finishing machines and gives real-time insight into the user’s factory. Some of the streamed data include current machine status, current machine speed vs expected machine speed, totals produced (good/waste) and more. Live Monitor is accessible by browser, tablet and mobile device.

Creative Edge Software released iC3d v5.5, the latest version of its all-in-one packaging design software iC3D with major new features powered by real-time ray tracing technology. iC3D v5.5 introduced more carton folding capabilities, as well as new ray traced materials and editing features powered by the iC3D real-time ray tracing.

Global Graphics showed new workflows and digital front ends compatible with the ISO PDF 2.0 standard. The Harlequin RIP was the first major PDF RIP for production printing to offer compatibility with the PDF 2.0 standard. It supports all of the features of the new PDF 2.0 standard that are relevant for production printing.

GMG launched the new version of its OpenColor proofing system. GMG OpenColor is a proofing technology that precisely predicts the color appearance of printed inks, particularly ‘overprints’, without requiring extensive fingerprinting. The new GMG OpenColor 2.2 incorporates automatic, spectral data-based optimization of measurement data. 

GSE demonstrated its Ink Manager software for minimizing ink-related waste, enhanced reporting, improved ink yields and business planning, reduced set-up times and traceability. The software maximizes the reuse of inks returned from the press, by allowing them to be ‘clustered’ together into one component, which is connected to the dispenser and processed automatically. Alternatively, return inks may be reserved or prepared for specific, scheduled jobs. 

Hybrid Software launched Variable Data Printing (VDP) for its PackZ PDF editor and Cloudflow workflow suite. The VDP Prepare option can be used to turn any PDF package or label design into a VDP design by simply indicating which elements (text, barcodes, images, colors, etc) are dynamic and linking them to a data source.

Integrated with Label Traxx MIS, Siteline allows label-buyer customers to view their order history via a mobile device – and place orders – at any time of day. Orders placed online drop directly into Label Traxx MIS and queue up to be scheduled. Siteline also includes a dedicated chat area for customer projects, helping service staff to manage customer interactions and track job status. The latest release of Label Traxx also includes tools for the flexible packaging market.

Loftware’s new artwork management system, Smartflow is configurable, cloud-based workflow software designed to handle the complex processes involved in artwork design, review and approval – from product concept to launch. Smartflow streamlines the packaging concept-to-shelf process by bringing accountability and structure to lower costs, reduce mistakes, improve collaboration, ensure regulatory compliance and reduce time to market. 

Madiwor, making its Labelexpo debut, launched an MIS designed specifically for label converters. Designed by a team with more than 30 years’ expertise in the label industry, Madiwor Cloud MIS is a SaaS (software as a service) focused on the core business processes of a label converter. Key features include raw materials inventory, how intuitive and easy it is to update the production plan, estimating, dynamically generated technical specifications, dies management, and a B2B e-commerce module that provides brand owners access to a personalized account. 

Techkon USA’s SpectroVision is a new color measurement tool that can be installed on flexo and gravure presses for real time color measurements during the press run. Its highly accurate, full 31-point spectrophotometer is guided by a high-resolution digital camera to find the exact location of color patches, color bars, and specific in-image measurement locations. The spectrophotometer provides spectral, CIELab, density, and dot area information for color locations. The included Techkon ChromaQA color quality software allows users to create jobs that specify the exact measurement locations, color reference values, and customer specific tolerances.

Tilia Labs unveiled new features for its Phoenix 7.0 software for narrow web. Tilia Phoenix uses artificial intelligence in automating planning and imposition for all types of print and post-press applications. The system factors in parameters, such as job specifications (quantity, dimensions, colors, substrates), presses/print devices, post-press requirements, and delivery considerations, to deliver optimal layout options. When a final option has been selected, Tilia Phoenix generates print-ready layouts and JDF or die instructions, for all devices in the production chain.

UpSoftware showed its SisPro PCP + KPI automatic planning and control software, which not only helps the user plan its production but also avoid wear and tear from repeated errors and achieve greater efficiency. Automation on the Factory floor is transforming various industry sectors, bringing more and better information to management and directors and allowing them to reach their targets and innovate their working processes.

X-Rite and Pantone launched ColorCert QA, a new pressroom quality assurance software designed to helping manage pressroom standards more efficiently, optimize jobs on press and facilitate strong ink room integration. The new ColorCert QA module supports a non-job-based workflow, helping achieve color accuracy and consistency, especially when used in conjunction with an X-Rite eXact handheld spectrophotometer. ColorCert QA allows direct integration with PantoneLive.

Inspection
AVT gave North American debuts to two 100 percent inspection systems: Helios S Turbo+ and Helios Turbo HD+. Each offers high-resolution capabilities, with 100 percent inspection performed at full press and rewinder speeds without sacrificing inspection quality and barcode verification. 

AVT also showed Helios D, a high-end 100 percent print inspection system designed to meet the needs of digital printing in the label and narrow web markets. For inkjet press vendors, AVT offers Jet-IQ, a closed loop quality engine that works in synergy with press controllers to maintain print quality, offering full connectivity to all steps of inkjet printing. AB Graphic showed six different fleyeVision 100 percent inspection cameras, including two mounted on slitter inspection rewinders. A new table-top rewinder was also shown (Omega Horizon) which is designed for inspection and re-working of single lanes.

ABG teamed up with Cerm so visitors could watch live production data from the beverage specification Digicon, the AutoSet glueless turret rewinder and an SRI slitter inspection rewinder. This is part of a much wider project the two companies have been working on to fully automate the finishing production process. 

Baldwin Vision Systems (formerly QuadTech and PC Industries) showed Guardian RTM, a new real-time quality monitoring and reporting tool for the Guardian PQV 100 percent inspection system. Guardian RTM uses a central server to monitor, collect, and display real-time inspection data for multiple presses and jobs – and even across multiple plants – on a simple, uncluttered dashboard user interface.

Additional enhancements to the Guardian PQV include automated set-up and automated job changeover, limiting operator intervention for a more efficient and accurate inspection process. The system provides true 100 percent print inspection for pharmaceutical, converting, label, flexo, wide and narrow web applications. 

BST North America showed its new QLink workflow, aimed at enabling printers to reduce their costs and improve product quality. While the TubeScan is scanning for defects on the printing press, the printer uses the touch screen of the QLink editor to classify the defects as relevant or not relevant. The information is considered in the net count of the inspected goods. At any given time, the printer knows the net count and can run the press up to the exact production amount required. 

CC1 introduced updates to its camera-based mark-to-mark Automatic Register Control system. The company’s DRC-6000L register control, designed for in-line flexo printers, which uses a proprietary register mark pattern, allows the system to consistently provide start-up material waste reduction ranging from 40-70 percent. For print jobs without marks, CC1’s newest feature, TouchPoint, allows operators to use the DRC- 6000L touchscreen to manually drag and drop print stations into register using a cross hair or other visual register reference point. 

Electromatic Equipment Company showed the Checkline LS-3-LED stroboscope, which features a super-bright light source and adjustable controls, ideal for process and narrow web inspection in demanding production environments. 

Erhardt+Leimer showed Smartscan, a camera-based quality assurance system. In addition to a video function with zoom, it also enables unique 200 percent print image inspection for reliable defect detection, splice detection and detection of missing labels and unremoved matrix. 

Also on show was the ELScan OMS4 video system, which has received a recent makeover: the user interface can now be configured, making operation even easier; there’s a joystick keypad with an integrated wheel for navigation and zooming and quick selection function buttons, and from now on ELScan comes with a more powerful computer, offering a range of additional functions. 

EyeC demonstrated print sample testing on an EyeC Proofiler 600 DT. This system’s latest software combines print inspection and dimensional measurement capabilities. Pharma label converters can take advantage of EyeC’s new pharma workflow offering improved data integrity, data security, and an easier audit trail review. EyeC also displayed the EyeC Proofiler Graphic for automated PDF-checks at the pre-press stage. This system now includes optional Workflow Integration into existing workflow software such as the Esko Automation Engine. 

An EyeC ProofRunner 100 percent print inspection system for labels and flexible packaging was shown on a Rotoflex rewinder. This in-line inspection system checks the print quality of texts, graphics, color, and foil embossing over the entire production run. 

Grafikontrol introduced new tools for efficiency such as automatic register for flexo presses and patented precision tracking systems. It presented Lynex-S, a 100 percent inspection system of the printed web, which enables automatic detection and classification of every defect. 

Isra Vision’s NarrowStar is tailored for narrow web, with compact dimensions that allow it to fit into any printing line. With a choice of three different sizes for web widths of 330, 440 or 660 mm, all components integrate into a single enclosure. The system uses camera components Isra designed specifically for print inspection applications and Isra-made lighting components. 

Novation’s AF3 WebFlagger is a safe and reliable means of applying pressure-sensitive flags to webs moving at speeds up to and above 4,000ft (1,200m) per minute. Novation’s WebFlaggers have multiple inputs for manual buttons, machine signals such as splices, or for connection to any automatic web inspection system. They can also track defects from upstream locations on the line to the location of the flagger. 

Unilux unveiled the new LED12 strobe, a powerful portable stroboscope for print inspection, reworked to incorporate the company’s latest advances in user controls. Popular features make it easier to instantly synchronize the strobe flash rate and fine-tune the target inspection area for crisp, clear images anywhere on the press. Stationary LED2000 Series inspection systems with Smart Assist were also on display for the first time in North America. 

James Quirk

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James Quirk is group managing editor of Labels & Labeling.

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